Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Snapshots of May

Saying Congratulations! with a pie

Packed up for the road

Dave ready for a ride
Plugging away on an old project
Planning for a new project

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My Other Project

It was back in February when I cut into this pile of fabric and I have been dinking away on it off and on since then. I had two fat quarter bundles - one called Prince Charming Indigo by Tula Pink and the other Portobello by Alice Kennedy. I also had a Prince Charming charm pack and some additional yardage of a couple of the coral fabrics.

I was inspired by a Kaffe Fassett quilt, Light in the Forest, in his book, Quilts in Sweden. It is hard to say I followed the pattern, though, because I changed the block size, the fabric, the layout and the borders. It is a traditional concept, like most quilts, based on a "magic number". The finished blocks are 2.5", 5" and 10" so it is easy to rearrange and interlock the squares. I wanted some blocks that were big enough to show off some of these large scale prints.

I ordered some extra wide fabric for backing - no piecing this time! I'm trying something new and easy. Deciding on colors is always a bit of a crap shoot online but here's hoping it is a good match or at least, good enough. I haven't decided on quilting it yet - I will get the layers together and then decide. This one has been a project that has progressed one step at a time all the way through.

Friday, May 18, 2012

30,31 and 32


The last three Rose Star quilt blocks! 

Probably. If the design works out as I picture it... 

After a while, they all start to look alike. I wanted more red in the quilt so I tried to focus on red and pink and orange. We'll see if it is enough.

I have a lot of background pieces to sew up now and then a long process of putting all of the blocks together. Part of me wants to be done but mostly so I can use the leftovers in other projects. But I think I will keep these fabrics off limits in case I need them for half blocks or somewhere in the borders 
or the backing/binding.

Monday, May 14, 2012


It's been easy to take the cows for granted. Their field is just a stone's throw away and it seems as if they have always been there, eating grass. Sometimes they are up in the woods or in another nearby pasture; we see them go to the pond for a drink or, in the winter, following the tractor which doles out hay. Calves appear, with bright white faces, two or three born each year - but the herd stays roughly the same size, about twelve brown cows. They mostly walk around slowly and eat grass.

When we heard that Barbara, the owner of the fields and the cows, was asking neighbors if they wanted a cow (or maybe some meat), it was a surprise. She was saying that she and her husband, Bill, were getting too old to care for them. 

Why, maybe we should buy the cows. Well, we would need the field, too. What do we know about cattle? Crazy idea.

The next morning, Dave saw some cows corralled and some men talking nearby and we thought it might be over that quickly, the cows sold and butchered, just like that. What about the land? Would they sell the land? Would it be subdivided into ranchettes?  WOULD EVERYTHING CHANGE?

But they were all still there the next morning, chewing away and, so far, nothing has changed at all. 

I called Barbara, and she said yes, she was getting too old, she is 77 and Bill is 84 and did I know that she broke her hip in March? It was March 21 and more about the hip and the vitamins she takes and they heat with wood and there is a lot of wind up there on the hill and, when I could get her to talk about the cows, she said when she married Bill in 1955, his mother had some milking cows and yes, they have had cows a long time because that is, what?, almost 57 years ago. No, they aren't selling the land. Back to the vitamins...

There are about a dozen geese that are hanging out in the field these days, sharing the pond. When the cows go, it will still be a mighty pleasant meadow and it will be alive with frogs and birds and rabbits and coyotes. It will be green and pretty and will change with the seasons. But I've grown quite fond of the cows and I will miss them. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Background Fabrics

I was pretty sure I wanted a red-on-white dotted fabric for the background for this Rose Star quilt top.

These pictures show some trials with the only dots in my fabric stash drawer. Too big, too close together, wrong colors, etc. but it did illustrate what wouldn't work.

After wasting some time online, studying websites, trying to guess at scale and color, it occurred to me to go downtown! Shop local! Duh!

The fabric I ended up getting has black dots, not red. I was so sure that red would work. The black just looked so much better in the store than any of the others and I had five or six reds to choose from.

I like it, especially up close. Once I had a few blocks laid out and stood back, there wasn't quite as much contrast as I wanted but I'm pretty sure I don't want to go with plain white. I'll finish up the final two blocks and make a few white shapes to try in place of the dots and make the final decision then.

Monday, May 07, 2012

26, 27, 28 and 29

Four more Rose Star Blocks are finished, upping the count to 29. The current goal is 32 but that may get revised once I start attaching them together and see how the layout looks. I bought 3 yards of background fabric a few days ago; I was 100% sure at the store that I made just the right choice. Now I am less sure. We'll see...


Saturday, May 05, 2012

State Championships

In January, Ray and four of his classmates scored a Superior rating at a Regional Solo and Ensemble event in Bellingham, which qualified them to go to the state contest in Ellensburg last week. The quintet was required to play the same piece of music (Die Bankelsangerlieder) and was prohibited from making any changes to the group. 

The boys were very responsible when it came to preparation and practicing. They received some good coaching from the Anacortes band director, Ian Simensen, and from Malcolm Peterson of the Fidalgo Youth Symphony.

They were goofy, at times, and they had fun. They roomed together in a hotel the night before, got a day off from school and spent a sunny day on a college campus with hundreds of other musically inclined high school kids.

 The judges awarded them a rating of "Excellent" for their performance. The scale is Superior, Excellent and Good. We received the written comments today in the mail and one of the judges actually rated them Superior. Most of the feedback pointed to improvements needed in tempo and dynamics, and all three scorers mentioned "rushing". Other quotes were, "Mp/p sounded good. Overall - good! Fine literature. Solid interpretation. Nice brass sounds!"  My favorite remarks were, "I really liked the ornaments" and "Nice ornaments, trumpets."

Chris Ford, Ray Palmer, Conner Darrow, Blake Prescott, Jay Sourbeer
Courtesy of Les Schwab Tires and the Washington Dairy Farmer's Assn, the Washington Music Educators Assn. awarded each participating group a certificate and a handshake. There is a lot behind a three minute performance.

They are on YouTube. Here is the link.  

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Motorcycle Tool Boxes

Give a retired guy a shop full of tools, a couple of motorcycles and an idea - and what do you get?  A project that turns into a business...

Dave saw some wasted space between the frame of his bike and the rack that supports the touring panniers. He made a tool box to fit this spot exactly - first a plywood version, for a pattern, and then a much nicer one out of aluminum.  A buddy wanted a box for his bike, then another guy saw it and asked for one. Someone posted a picture online on the Adventure Riders web forum that this group frequents, and the requests began to trickle in. 

It's a nice little box - it keeps the greasy tools away from the clothes and doesn't add any bulk to the load. 

The hinges, rivets and locks have all evolved since the first box was built. The design has been improved and the production methods streamlined. He has needed to buy more tools (surprise!) and now has a nice website, thanks to our friend, John Corso.

Dave has sold boxes to men in Brazil, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Columbia. People seem to like them - word of mouth is keeping sales going and he has sold more than 60 so far. A magazine writer is going to interview Dave later this month and expects to publish an article soon. He may be spending even more time out in the shop.